Book Club Week 4: The Joy of Movement, Chapter 4

A few weeks ago we started a virtual book club.

You can read about the idea here.

You can buy the Joy of Movement here or from a local bookshop or your favourite online retailer.

What’s the plan? Christine, Catherine, and I are reading a chapter a week, for seven weeks and writing about it here. We did that for Nia Shank’s book The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be. And we liked it so much we’re doing it again. Read what our reviews looked like here.

What’s different this time? We’re inviting you to join us. Read along and put your contributions in the comments. It doesn’t need to be a lot. A few sentences, a few paragraphs, whatever you’re moved to write.

Want to catch up?

Read Week 1 here:

Read Week 2 here:

Read Week 3 here:


Chapter 4 ‘Let Yourself Be Moved’ is a celebration of music’s innate effects on our bodies and brains.

I was interested to learn that some of my experiences with music and movement (not just dance but movement in general) are actually common experiences that have scientifically measurable effects.

(For example, choosing specific songs for certain parts of a workout, not just for the beat but for the feelings they create and the messages they promote.)

I was especially intrigued to read that at certain points in your workout your music can affect your perception of your exertion (i.e. you can work harder than you realized) but, at other points, it can positively affect your feelings about that exertion (I’m working so hard, I’m getting stronger!)

I will definitely seek to make use of that information in my future playlists.

This chapter is filled with wonderful examples of how music serves us well for both our movement goals and for feelings of joy and connection. On top of the useful information for movement, this section is worth reading just for all the happy experiences in the examples – I found myself smiling all as I was reading.


Our brains hear music as an invitation to move. That’s the theme of Chapter Four, Let Yourself Be Moved.

We don’t just hear music with our ears and our brains, we hear it with our muscles.

I loved reading this chapter for the many happy stories of people moving to music. Again though, I have to say, I hate the drug-talk. McGonigal refers to music as a performance enhancing drug. Why? It might be performance enhancing but not everything that’s performance enhancing is a drug.

Once I got past that, I enjoyed the discussions of the different aspects of music that aid performance. Yes, a commanding beat that matches the tempo that you want to maintain helps. But so too do inspirational lyrics and heroic imagery.

My favourite parts of this chapter were the author’s story of her love of dance and music and how that’s connected to her family history. It made me want to do some dancing during these quarantine times!


 Chapter 4 is a cheerful reminder that movement is intertwined with many the things we love, including music. I had read about the therapeutic effect music has on people with Parkinson’s, and McGonigal’s section describing a dance class for PD was heartening.

I think that people’s preferences differ about combining music with other types of athletic activity. Some runners have playlists in their heads (rather than wearing headsets). For cyclists, using music can distract from hearing important traffic and other environmental sounds. I know this is an issue of some contention, but it’s worth noting.

With respect to training, especially indoor training, it makes sense (and I’m glad that studies support) that music can enhance motivation, enjoyment, distraction from pain or discomfort, and overall feelings of well-being. McGonigal is preaching to the choir here, so I’m not in need of more convincing. In summary:

Everybody Dance Now!

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